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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Harvard Law Review Misspells the Name of Harvard Law Dean Griswold

Erwin Nathaniel Griswold was one of the giants of American law, rising to become Dean of the Harvard Law School and Solicitor General of the United States.  Griswold Hall, at Harvard Law School, is named for him.  He was a notorious stickler for detail.  As David Remnick writes in The Bridge, "Every year until his death in 1994, Griswold ... sent frequent letters to the President [of the Harvard Law Review]-'Grizzer-grams,' they were called - lauding a good article, or, far more often, pointing out flaws of prose, reasoning, editing or timeliness."

Imagine Dean Griswold's reaction to the December 2010 issue of the Harvard Law Review, which refers to "Irwin Griswold, Dean of the Law School for twenty-one years." (p. 432)  This error appears in, of all places, Justice David Souter's 2010 Harvard Commencement Address.  Souter was a student at Harvard Law School during Griswold's deanship.

I am stunned that none of the very bright Harvard Law Review editors, who fly-speck every comma, noticed this glaring misspelling.  (Was this error in Souter's original manuscript and never verified?)  I point this out not just to make fun of a former rival (this would never have happened at the Yale Law Journal!), but also as a sober reflection on how little even the greatest legal academics are remembered after they are gone.  Sic transit gloria mundi, indeed.

The error has been fixed on the e-version of the commencement speech on the HLR website.  But "Irwin Griswold" is out there permanently in the hard copies, to the everlasting infamy of the Volume 124 editors.

Posted by Carlton Larson on January 11, 2011 at 06:45 PM | Permalink


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I can't believe the Harvard Law Review would make sure an error for such an important man. Dean Griswold will rightfully be upset to have his name published incorrectly there.

Posted by: Ben Huston | May 23, 2011 2:35:46 PM

@andy, nobody gets your jokes here, apparently, readers of this blog are way too serious to poke behind the surface.

Posted by: Marta | Jan 21, 2011 11:08:22 AM

No, no, no! Estelle Griswold was, in fact, the Dean of Harvard Law School -- and later SG. Ol' Erwin was the Margaret Sanger of his generation.

Posted by: Vladimir | Jan 19, 2011 1:16:26 AM

I'm 100% certain that it was Erwin Griswold. He had stopped by a Connecticut pharmacy after taking his family on a loony summer vacation.

Posted by: andy | Jan 18, 2011 7:35:42 PM

The litigant in Griswold v. Connecticut was most definitely Estelle Griswold, the director of New Haven Planned Parenthood. Erwin Griswold had nothing to do with that case.

Posted by: Carlton Larson | Jan 18, 2011 7:21:10 PM

ppaul, I'm pretty sure it was *Erwin* Griswold. the controversy started out as a income tax case (Erwin's field), but then morphed into a case involving fundamental privacy rights.

Posted by: andy | Jan 18, 2011 7:16:35 PM

Vladimir, you are thinking of Estelle Griswold, of the New Haven Planned Parenthood clinic, not Erwin.

Posted by: ppaul | Jan 17, 2011 8:22:59 PM

What a terrible thing to do to such an important man. Why, without him, married couples in Connecticut still might not have legal access to contraception!

Posted by: Vladimir | Jan 13, 2011 8:27:43 PM

umm. won't the paper copy be on heinonline?

Posted by: peter | Jan 11, 2011 11:13:16 PM

Orin - that's probably true, but I'm pretty sure Justice Souter still only reads the hard copy ...

Posted by: Carlton Larson | Jan 11, 2011 10:37:42 PM

Fortunately no one reads the paper version anymore, so no big deal.

(BTW, you probably want to delete the comment spam above.)

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Jan 11, 2011 9:28:25 PM

Wow. When Griswold wrote the original BlueBook in 1926, he should have included a rule about how to spell his first name. Surely the editors would have heeded a BlueBook rule. . .

Posted by: andy | Jan 11, 2011 8:08:05 PM

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